Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria on Friday, May 29, challenged Kieni MP Kanini Kega to protect his constituents and their source of livelihood as foreign imports flood the market.
Speaking in an interview, the Jubilee legislator stated that onion imports from Ethiopia and Tanzania had affected the farmers in the constituency.
“The issue was raised on a local radio station this morning and his constituents called me to have it solved,” he stated.
Kuria further stated that Kanini was in a better position to assist his people as he was the chair of a parliamentary committee.
“Imagine his own people coming to seek help from me, and I’m not their MP. On behalf of Kieni onion farmers, the MP needs to use the powers of that office to ensure the government bans importation of onions from Ethiopia and Tanzania so that we protect Kieni farmers,” he added.
The Gatundu South MP further stated that it was time to put the divisive politics aside in service of the constituents.
Even though Kieni Constituency is considered one of the top producers of onions in the region, imports from neighbouring countries have affected local farmers.
A report showed that Tanzania, Egypt and other onion producing countries have taken over the Kenyan onion market with reports indicating Tanzania is supplying Kenya with more than 50 per cent of the product.
Kenyan farmers have recorded meagre earnings due to the expensive nature of farm inputs which include the cost of imported agrochemicals, seeds, fertilizer among other inputs.
In 2018, farmers in Kieni protested against an influx of cheap onions from Tanzania, because they were ruining local prices.
Tonnes of Tanzanian onions flooded Nyeri markets at the time, causing the onion prices to drop to as little as Ksh23 per kg of Grade 1 red onions and Ksh 15 for Grade 2.
Previous attempts pushing for county government intervention to stop the imports have not borne fruits with the Nyeri Agriculture department declining farmers’ appeals.
“We have received complaints from our farmers asking the government to intervene. With current East African integration, we cannot stop onions from Tanzania, since nothing stops our farmers from selling in Tanzania,” the department said in a statement in 2018.